Guppy spinning and spiraling

sar98

Tank
What is the water volume of the tank? 32.5 gallon (a Fluval Flex 32.5 tank)
How long has the tank been running? 30 days
Does it have a filter? yes
Does it have a heater? yes
What is the water temperature? 78F
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.) 5 guppies, 2 nerites, 12 cherry shrimps

Maintenance
How often do you change the water? weekly after tank completed cycling
How much of the water do you change? 10-15%
What do you use to treat your water? tap water + API water conditioner
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? yes, the parts I can access (others covered by driftwood, rocks & plants)

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? yes, using API Quick start & 3 guppies
What do you use to test the water? API Master kit + API hardness
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite
: 0
Nitrate
: just under 5ppm
pH
: 7.8
GH: very high (700ish ppm)
kH: low (70 ppm)


Feeding
How often do you feed your fish? Twice a day
How much do you feed your fish? A few flakes & pellets
What brand of food do you feed your fish? API Tropical Flakes + Hikari shrimp pellets
Do you feed frozen? yes
Do you feed freeze-dried foods? yes, once a week frozen brine shrimps

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? 4 weeks
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? became obvious today, but abnormal behavior started in previous weeks
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? fish swims swims uncontrollably, spiraling on its main axis and crashing against tank wall
Have you started any treatment for the illness? moved to isolation tank
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? no - perhaps slightly arched back
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? other guppies started bullying him, and he became more reclusive, staying in a corner at the top of the tank. Today he started swimming sideways, and later started the spinning behavior when he panics.

Explain your emergency situation in detail.
(Please give a clear explanation of what is going on, include details from the beginning of the illness leading up to now)

Hello,

I am new to fishkeeping and I got a new tank about a month ago, which I have now cycled using API Quick Start and three guppies. After a couple of weeks two of the guppies started bullying the third, and since the water parameters looked ok, I added 2 more in the hope this would improve. It didn't, instead I now had 4 guppies bullying the one. Over time the bullied fish started spending more time in self-isolation usually, staying at the top corner of the tank away from the others.

I thought this was a reaction to the bullying, but today he started swimming tilted at an angle, and later showed obvious signs of distress, spinning & spiraling furiously and eventually laying exhausted on the gravel. When he is calm he can still swim around semi-normally (but with a tilt), but then he panics and spirals around bouncing into surfaces as shown in a video I uploaded on YouTube (I don't seem to be able to upload videos here).

Please help! What could be wrong with? I initially thought about swim bladder disease, but he doesn't look swollen and the behavior feels very extreme. He had a very swollen tummy a few weeks ago when I first (over-)fed him brine shrimps, but it has since been quite normal and flat. In fact I'd say he is looking fairly thin and discolored. His tail had been intermittently turning dark blue when he was being bullied, which I assumed was a sign of self-defense to scare off the bullies. Also his back is slightly arched upwards since I got him and his eyes seems to be protruding slightly today. Maybe just the stress.

I've read about whirling disease, could that be it? Surprised it could affect a guppy.. My other (and main) fear is that it could be TB as I caught the kids playing with bare hands in the tank over the last few days (and I have a few small scratches on my hands myself...). Could that explain it? Hopefully not...

Thank you, any ideas greatly appreciated!


PS. I just found out I have a very water hardness, somewhere north of 700ppm GH (lost precise count around 45-46 drops in API test kit), but kH is quite normal. I suspect this may be because I was sold a 'quartz' stone by the local fish store that I eventually noticed started melting in the tank. Guessing it was a halite or salt-crystal instead. I changed some water but probably not enough. I thought both guppies, nerites and cherry shrimps could tolerate some salinity. My tap water is pretty hard as well, even though I haven't measured it yet. Could extreme hardness cause this behavior?
 

JuDom

Hello There. :)
Sorry your fish isn’t doing well.

Guppies are actually known to thrive in hard water conditions, so you’re in luck there because your water is “liquid rock” as they call it.
However with such a high GH and a KH not so high, you will need to make sure your pH stays balanced, this could cause a world of hurt on your fishes.
How often do you test pH?

Are all of your guppies males?
I’m not certain as to what could be causing this behavior but if they have been bullying him for some time, maybe he has a disease. Animals have a way of knowing when one of their kind is sick and will disown it to protect themselves essentially. Being that they’re in a glass box, they can’t be completely disowned so they end up hiding and being bullied.
You said this fish wasn’t 100% when you brought him home?

Sorry for all the questions..hope I can help.
Glad you separated him from the group for now..

PS I’d recommend removing the quartz. Little tip, anything you want to try and add to your tank needs to pass the vinegar test first. Take a little white vinegar and pour it on said object, if it fizzes, it will dissolve in water. If not, you’re good to go. But there are many different effects that different materials can have on your water parameters so always do your research first. :)
 

PAcanis

I've been doing a lot of Googling on what is called corkscrewing. I had two Habrosus Corys start doing this. There seems to be no definitive answer for this behavior, just a lot of maybes. And about 90% of the folks say their fish don't make it. I had one die and I put the other out of its misery after a day of doing this. They could not even eat.
 

sar98

Thank you both for the replies!

Today the fish seems to be doing a bit better. He is calm, and swimming fairly upright - haven't seen any 'corkscrewing' (I had never heard of that one!). Perhaps it is swim bladder disease after all, although I see no evidence that he relieved himself of his constipation (and it should be easy to tell in my empty quarantine tank). I haven't fed him, will wait another day then feed him a pea.

I've been testing water daily, and ph as been fairly stable between 7.2 and 7.8. Last night I did a 50% water-change to lower the hardness and ph dropped to 7.4. I will do another 50% change today or tomorrow, taking it relatively easy as I have sensitive shrimps in there (and so far I saw no ill effects of the hardeness. The shrimps seem to be thriving and molding ok). My tap hardness is 170, so I should be able to drop the hardness in time.

All the guppies are boys yes... with young kids in the house didn't want to risk the spectacle of them eating their babies and causing childhood traumas! :)

The fish was okay when I got him home. There was a tiny arch to his back, but as a complete beginner didn't make much of it. It doesn't look too bad, perhaps some mild scoliosis. Maybe that's why the other guppies were picking on him...

I just hope it's nothing serious, I'll try to see if constipation treatment works (but he is so thin...!) and keep him in quarantine for the foreseeable future. Might try adding some salts and raising the temperature a little bit.

Thank you all for the advice!
 

JuDom

Thank you both for the replies!

Today the fish seems to be doing a bit better. He is calm, and swimming fairly upright - haven't seen any 'corkscrewing' (I had never heard of that one!). Perhaps it is swim bladder disease after all, although I see no evidence that he relieved himself of his constipation (and it should be easy to tell in my empty quarantine tank). I haven't fed him, will wait another day then feed him a pea.

I've been testing water daily, and ph as been fairly stable between 7.2 and 7.8. Last night I did a 50% water-change to lower the hardness and ph dropped to 7.4. I will do another 50% change today or tomorrow, taking it relatively easy as I have sensitive shrimps in there (and so far I saw no ill effects of the hardeness. The shrimps seem to be thriving and molding ok). My tap hardness is 170, so I should be able to drop the hardness in time.

All the guppies are boys yes... with young kids in the house didn't want to risk the spectacle of them eating their babies and causing childhood traumas! :)

The fish was okay when I got him home. There was a tiny arch to his back, but as a complete beginner didn't make much of it. It doesn't look too bad, perhaps some mild scoliosis. Maybe that's why the other guppies were picking on him...

I just hope it's nothing serious, I'll try to see if constipation treatment works (but he is so thin...!) and keep him in quarantine for the foreseeable future. Might try adding some salts and raising the temperature a little bit.

Thank you all for the advice!
I’d like to make a delayed suggestion in you adding more male guppies to the aquarium. They seem to squabble less in large groups. You have a large tank and you have plenty of space to add quite a few more. :)
I would definitely suggest keeping an eye on your pH though. You want it to remain stable as that can really disrupt tank as a whole.
Peat moss works for reducing hardness if you’d like to do so you can add some in a fine mesh bag and put it in your filter or hang it in the tank. Just make sure it doesn’t have any additives.
 

sar98

I’d like to make a delayed suggestion in you adding more male guppies to the aquarium. They seem to squabble less in large groups. You have a large tank and you have plenty of space to add quite a few more. :)
I would definitely suggest keeping an eye on your pH though. You want it to remain stable as that can really disrupt tank as a whole.
Peat moss works for reducing hardness if you’d like to do so you can add some in a fine mesh bag and put it in your filter or hang it in the tank. Just make sure it doesn’t have any additives.

Thank you for all your suggestions! I should definitely try out some peat moss, I didn't know about it. I've now done a water change every day and I've managed to lower that GH to around 400ppm. I would have expected more based on my simple calculations, wonder if any other rocks are increasing water hardness. They are mostly dragon stones, but who knows given what happened with the 'quartz' they sold me (when I noticed, I removed immediately - shame it was stunning!). Perhaps I should test everything with vinegar as you suggested.

I have started with only a few guppies to cycle the tank, the plan was always to add more. I also wanted to add some neons or cardinals which the kids really loved at the fish store, but I hear you need to keep them in groups of 8-10 at least. I also wanted to add an algae eater (I was thinking of the Siamese). Do you think my tank could support 6 guppies, say 8-10 neons and a Siamese algae eater, or is that pushing it? Plus I have cherry shrimps and 2 nerites...

As for the sick guppy, he has stopped the corkscrewing behavior but has been very weak and miserable ever since, sitting at the bottom of my quarantine tank. He has passed stools (initially they were stringy white) and I've given him a tiny bit of food. He ignored it for a day, but now started nibbling it. Hopefully he can recover his strength. He now swims fairly normally when he tries, but he is still very lethargic. Almost as if swimming causes him pain.
 

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